Friday, November 10, 2006

Recruiting Terrorists in the UK

The threat of jihadist terrorism in the UK is growing, as London's Telegraph reports:

[MI5 head] Dame Eliza Manningham-Buller said Islamic militants linked to al-Qa'eda were recruiting teenagers to carry out suicide attacks ...

The nature and gravity of the threat was deepening, fuelled by the rapid radicalisation of young British Muslims – some still at school, yet prepared to join the ranks of the suicide bombers.

''These plots often have links back to al-Qa'eda in Pakistan and through those links al-Qa'eda gives guidance and training to its largely British footsoldiers here on an extensive and growing scale."
It's not a surprise that radicals would target young, impressionable people. Terrorist recruiters generally seek those who are looking to give their lives meaning. Young people are vulnerable to this type of call, as are the recently converted.

In response, the British are appealing to the nation's peaceful Muslims to help intercept these threats. Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said:
"The Muslim communities in this country did not ask the terrorists to act in their name," she said. "The vast majority are sickened by the slur on their great and noble faith. They make a huge and vital contribution to the life of this country. And they, the Muslim communities, have a special ability to make a difference in the struggle against extremism ... We should let the extremists bark in the night while we, the vast moderate majority, find a common way to defeat them and the terrorism they espouse."
On the local level, developing trusting relationships with the local Muslim population makes sense. They are in a good position to point out jihadist threats, as they have done in a number of cases before, both in the U.S. and the U.K. Such relationships have to be crafted carefully, as some individuals and groups may represent themselves as moderate when they are not.

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